Rural round-up

January 23, 2019

Small actions add up in reducing emissions – Ken Muir:

Farmers can undertake immediate practical steps to begin reducing emissions from their farms, DairyNZ climate change ambassador Dean Alexander says.

”It’s important to realise that there’s no great silver bullet and there are some basic things farmers can do now,”

Mr Alexander, who farms a herd of 1100 cows near Winton, said. He said it was important for farmers to develop an understanding of their systems.

”Once you have some idea of your emission status, you can begin to evaluate your options.” . . 

Benefactors’hopesaredashed – Neal Wallace:

For 99 years graduates of Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre and, for 54 years, from Telford in south Otago have worked on and progressed to owning farms. But all of that potentially came to an end before Christmas when a liquidator was appointed to resolve financial problems with the business. Neal Wallace profiles Taratahi.

The Taratahi and Telford farm training campuses have similar genesis. The formation of the not-for-profit private vocational farm training educators was made possible through generous bequests of land and industry and community support.

In 1918 Sir William Perry gave his Wairarapa farm to the Government to provide a training ground for servicemen returning from World War I. . .

It’s green but maybe not for long – Neal Wallace:

It might be the middle of summer but most of the country is still under an open fire season though Fire and Emergency is warning abundant vegetation growth could very quickly become potential fire fuel.

Usually, by mid-January dry conditions mean most of the country has fire controls, Fire and Emergency rural operations manager John Rasmussen said.

This year half the country can still light fires in the open without a permit because regular rain has kept vegetation green.

But Rasmussen said those conditions can change very quickly as summer gets drier.

Export lamb prices come off peak but Outlook strong despite Brexit – Heather Chalmers:

Export lamb prices remain at historically high levels, despite uncertainty over Brexit which coincides with the key Easter lamb trade.

Alliance Group livestock and shareholder services general manager Heather Stacy said Brexit could impact on the amount stock held in Britain and exchange rates, depending on what was agreed.

“It could be disruptive. It will affect customers in the UK, rather than New Zealand.” . . 

Cleaning up with goat milk – Yvonne O’Hara:

 Malcolm Gawn and wife Tracy Tooley decided they did not like Auckland traffic or the long commutes, so they moved to Balclutha and now they make soap from goat milk.

Mr Gawn said when they met about 10 years ago he was a corporate sales manager in Auckland and Ms Tooley was an anaesthetic technician there.

‘It got to the point we did not want to tolerate traffic, traffic lights and road works,” Mr Gawn said.

”We moved to an 8ha block near Balclutha with about 30 Saanen dairy goats and with no traffic lights, no roundabouts and no queues.”

Rural jobs fund runs out – Basant Kumar Mohanty:

The rural job guarantee scheme has run out of funds for this financial year, with activists fearing the implementing agencies will now hesitate to take up new projects, thereby denying paid work to the people.

According to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act website, the net balance is now Rs 1,719 crore in deficit. This means the rural development ministry has exhausted the entire funds of Rs 59,567 crore released towards the programme for the 2018-19 financial year.

The scheme guarantees paid, unskilled work for up to 100 days a year to every rural household.

Social activist Nikhil Dey said the scheme would be crippled for the two-and-a-half months left in this financial year, adding to the rural distress, unless more funds are released. . . 

https://twitter.com/HumanProgress/status/1086883280224505856

 


Rural round-up

October 14, 2018

Nebraska trip all about irrigation– Yvonne O’Hara:

Ben Donaldson, of Cromwell, was one of a group of people to visit Nebraska to look at new technology and new ideas relating to irrigation.

The recent five-day trip was organised by Irrigation New Zealand and as well as farmers, there were irrigators, consultants and service industry representatives

In addition to visiting the Husker Harvest Days,  the world’s largest irrigated farm show, they  visited the University of Nebraska’s Water for Food Global Institute, research farms and research trials, irrigation schemes, natural resource districts, which manage water resources, and irrigation manufacturers. Mr Donaldson,  general manager (Southern) of Irrigation Services,  said he found the trip useful.

“For me the greatest learnings were around the nitrate levels in the water, education of the children in regards to agriculture and how the use of fertigation ties all of this together,” he said. . . 

Honey collectors will act as biosecurity buzzers – Neal Wallace:

New Zealand could be about to recruit millions of extra biosecurity officers who will pay for their work by supplying nectar and honey.

A $1 million Endeavour Fund grant to Otago University researchers aims to recruit honey bees as biosecurity monitors to detect and find noxious weeds.

Biochemistry research fellow Dr Andrew Cridge said the plan is to strategically site hives in areas where there are suspected to be unwanted plants.

Because the cost of DNA diagnostic testing has fallen so much, it makes it viable to analyse bee-collected pollen to see if unwanted plants are near the hives. . .

Hipsters pay for farm view – Tim Fulton:

South Island couple Genna and Alistair Bird have opened a door to a world of people wanting to soak up a panoramic view from their Tiny House on a hill. Tim Fulton reports.

Hipsters are getting to know The Grange and the open skies and plains of Canterbury. Genna and Alistair Bird run a 560ha sheep and beef farm near Ashley Gorge, just out of Oxford. . .

New Zealand avocado industry on track to bounce back from last year’s low volume season:

New Zealand Avocado growers are expecting volumes to be around 25 per cent higher than last season.

NZ Avocado Chief Executive Jen Scoular says the current season is a medium volume season, following on from a low volume season in 2017-18 and a record high volume season in the year prior.

“The season’s total harvest volume is forecast at 5.2million trays (5.5kg), of which 3.6million trays are forecast for export, accounting for around 60 per cent increase on the previous seasons export volumes,” she said. . . 

$434M sale of Wrightson’s seeds fair to minorities – Paul McBeth:

Danish cooperative DLF Seeds’ $434 million cash and debt bid to buy PGG Wrightson’s seeds unit is fair to minority shareholders, independent advisor KordaMentha says.

Wrightson’s 12,059 shareholders will vote on the deal at a combined annual and special meeting on Oct. 30 in Christchurch. The transaction needs 75 percent support to go ahead, meaning controlling shareholder Agria can’t force it through. . .

Get advice before burnoff:

Farmers are being urged to seek advice from rural fire officers before burning off standing vegetation or slash after a burn-off got out of control in Northland on Wednesday.

The landowner was intending to burn off about two hectares of standing gorse and logging waste on the Tinopai Peninsula, but the fire jumped a firebreak into more gorse and slash and eventually burnt through most of a 50 hectare block before stopping once it got to green pasture.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand Northland Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer Rory Renwick said after jumping the firebreak the fire burnt rapidly along a ridge to where a digger was still in the process of building further fire breaks. . . 

Mastitis prevention and milking efficiency go hand in glove:

Udder health and milk quality are important to farm productivity and profitability. There’s a strong link between milking efficiency and preventing mastitis, while improving milking times will also improve milk quality, says mastitis expert and AgriHealth vet Dr Steve Cranefield.

Mastitis in New Zealand dairy cattle is our sector’s most common (and costly) disease. “Cows with healthy udders have less mastitis, produce more and are easier to milk,” says Steve. “Maintaining good teat skin condition is essential to reduce the chance of bacteria multiplying on the teats and getting into the udder. In addition, adopting good milking routines will help reduce the mastitis risk from teat end damage caused by over-milking.” . .


Rural round-up

September 9, 2018

Make jobs attractive to youth – Neal Wallace:

Farmers need to change their approach to employment conditions to encourage more people to work for them, Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis says.

Low regional unemployment is making staff recruitment more challenging but there are already fewer people choosing agricultural careers.

To be competitive farmers need to consider more than just pay but also rosters, hours of work, housing, the workplace environment, pressure of the job and ensure they meet their legal payroll and time-recording obligations. . .

Annual results will put Fonterra under microscope – Sally Rae:

Scrutiny from farmers is expected next week when new chairman John Monaghan and recently appointed interim chief executive Miles Hurrell front Fonterra’s 2017-18 annual results presentation.

While commodity price fluctuations were “part and parcel” of the reality of being a dairy farmer, grumblings about Fonterra’s corporate performance have been growing, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said.

From an historical perspective, prices remained at relatively robust levels and, at $6.50, most farmers would be in positive cashflow territory. . . 

FENZ urges caution on controlled burns – John Gibb:

Large, controlled burn fires at Northburn Station, near Cromwell, produced huge smoke clouds on several days this week, but burned without any problems, Fire and Emergency New Zealand said.

Otago principal chief rural fire officer Graeme Still, of Dunedin, said permitted fires at Northburn had produced large clouds of smoke on Monday, Wednesday and yesterday, but finished without incident.

Fire conditions were suitable at Northburn, partly because remaining snowpack restricted any potential fire spread, he said yesterday. . . 

Wool recovery continues – Alan Williams:

Wool prices made another step forward at Thursday’s Napier sale, building on the gains of a fortnight earlier.

After a disappointing start to the season prices have lifted in the last few weeks and strong wools in the 35-37 microns range were up by another 4% to 5%, PGG Wrightson’s North Island auctioneer Steven Fussell said.

Second-shear wools were mostly up by similar margins on a fortnight earlier with good style 2 to 3 inch fibre length ahead about 7%. . .

On the farm: our guide to what’s been happening rurally:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

North Island-Te Ika-a-Māui

The week finished off much better than it started in Northland. Mid-week the Far North town of Kaitaia had its second 13 degree day of winter – that’s chilly for them. A cold southerly is blasting through and apparently farmers are “right up against it” for pasture. Any strongly kikuyu dominant sward is very slow growing; rye grass is going okay but patches of it are few and far between on most farms. . . 

Fruit exports boost wholesale trade in June quarter:

Fruit exports drove wholesale trade sales up in the June 2018 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

The seasonally adjusted total sales value for wholesale trade rose 2.6 percent in the June 2018 quarter, following a modest 0.3 percent rise in the March 2018 quarter.

Five of the six wholesaling industries had sales rises in the June 2018 quarter. The largest industry increase was in grocery, liquor, and tobacco wholesaling, which was up 3.0 percent ($236 million). . . 

Deer milk hits the spot as finalist in NZ Food Awards:

Pāmu’s deer milk is on the awards stage again with today’s announcement that it is a finalist in two categories in this year’s New Zealand Food Awards.

The NZ Food Awards have been a highlight of the food sector for over 30 years and aim to demonstrate innovation, creativity and excellence in the food industry in New Zealand. . .

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